Software development teams are a crucial part of your organization, but they can be challenging to manage effectively. Managing a software development team takes navigating a learning curve and discovering how to encourage your team to act with utmost efficiency. Though most of your duties will mirror those in other industries, the world of software development has a few quirks you will need to remember.
Don’t worry; we’re here to help. These tips will help you better delegate tasks, measure the right metrics, encourage honest feedback, and more!
9 Tips for Managing a Software Development Team
1. Communicate clear expectations
Communication is crucial when managing a software development team. Outlining expectations will help members understand what you need and how to work together to achieve those goals.
Still, this can be easier said than done, especially working with a larger group. Regardless of how many employees you’re managing, you can utilize the following strategies to communicate effectively.
- Describe the problem before suggesting a solution: Not only does this leave room for creativity and innovation, but it also helps everyone understand why.
- Be mindful of different learning styles: Some people learn best by reading instructions, while others prefer hearing them out loud in a meeting or through video. Form a relationship with your team, and be prepared to deliver your expectations in more ways than one to keep everyone on board.
- Provide examples: Chances are that most of your goals have already been completed in the past by other companies. It can be worth reviewing what others have done in your field and using it as a reference point or to avoid errors others have already tackled.
- Listen just as often as you speak: One of the best ways to learn about your team is by listening. Not only will this give you insight into how each person thinks and works, but it will also help you understand what motivates them on a personal level—which you can use to your advantage!
2. Be transparent
Be open and honest when managing a software development team. If there is a new hurdle, don’t be afraid to let your team know, this will encourage feelings of inclusion in the decision-making process. And when possible, inform your team of steps to address any issues during development.
This might be difficult if some team members are only involved part-time, but that shouldn’t be an excuse for failing to communicate effectively with everyone involved. As such, be sure to dedicate a few hours of your week to ensure everyone is up to date on the latest news.
3. Set reasonable deadlines
Though most of your deadlines will be challenging, they should always be achievable. If you set a goal that’s too hard for your team members, you’ll create an environment of stress and anxiety. On the other hand, if your deadlines are too easy, you’ll have trouble completing tasks on time!
To ensure that all team members understand their responsibilities and how long they have to complete them, you should meet with each individual to assign tasks. This way, everyone knows exactly when things need to be finished while allowing backup time for fixing errors or making last-minute changes.
4. Pair developers with the right tasks
When managing a software development team, as a manager, you have the privilege of working with a range of incredibly talented individuals. As such, it’s in your best interest to play to each of their strengths. For instance, if you have a developer with a strong background in developing software for mobile devices, it makes sense to pair them with a mobile app development project rather than a front-end web development assignment.
This approach will also help your team members grow as professionals and increase their value to your company over time. Rather than focus on a diverse range of unrelated projects, each developer can become an expert in one specific field, granting you a talent pool of employees who can overcome any roadblock that comes their way.
5. Prioritize quality over quantity
While the phrase “Quality over quantity” probably seems common sense by now, it can be challenging to implement. Suppose your team works on a tight deadline and focuses on completing objectives on time. In that case, it’s easy for quality to get lost in the shuffle (again, making reasonable deadlines is essential!).
Fortunately, software development tends to be an iterative process, so your team will organically have the chance to improve their workflow and output. Still, remember that it’s much easier (and cheaper) to produce high-quality products that take longer than low-quality products that are finished quicker but require multiple fixes after release.
6. Discourage multitasking
We all think we’re great at multitasking, but the truth is that humans aren’t exactly wired for the practice. Research shows that when people think they’re juggling multiple tasks, they become less productive and more prone to mistakes.
So, when trying to get work done as a team, don’t allow your developers or engineers to switch back and forth between projects unless necessary. Furthermore, you should be mindful of how often you ask team members to swap priorities. If you’re about to disrupt someone’s work, take a moment to consider other alternatives. Perhaps someone with a less critical task could take over instead, or the change can wait until they’re finished.
7. Focus on the metrics that matter
As a manager, it’s essential to know what metrics are most important for your development team — and which aren’t. Since each project will be different in terms of goals and KPIs, it’s your job to create a list of metrics to help your team understand what they are doing right and what needs improvement.
For example, a team focused on preparing a product for launch may want to know how many errors were detected in the last round of testing or how the software’s performance compares to early iterations. Any other data that isn’t closely related should be left out, as it could end up sidetracking your developers or cause them to focus less on the most critical metrics.
8. Keep project files accessible
It is essential to keep all files accessible to minimize interruptions as your project moves forward. It may be challenging to do this in an organization with many layers and divisions, but it’s worth the effort. You might even consider making this a policy for your team or good practice to follow.
Similarly, keeping track of all the work that goes into a software development project can be incredibly difficult if you’re not using some version control system (which allows you to see changes made over time). Version control systems also grant multiple users access to the same file while saving them as individual copies so that no one can overwrite another person’s work by accident.
If possible, try setting up an internal version control system for your team before starting a project. This way, they’ll already know how to incorporate it into their workflow.
9. Create a safe environment for honest feedback
As a manager, you are most effective when your team can give you honest feedback. When people feel safe enough to share their concerns and ideas, they are more engaged in the process and more motivated to be productive. A safe environment is vital for teams that have remote members or work with new hires who may not yet know each other well. Creating an environment where it’s okay to speak up helps prevent issues from snowballing into more significant problems later.
To accomplish this, you need to establish clear expectations around feedback and hold yourself accountable for providing them. Try setting up a time at the beginning of each meeting for team members to share their thoughts, ideas, and concerns. And don’t be afraid to ask for feedback from people who aren’t comfortable speaking up in front of the group—they may be more likely to give you honest answers one-on-one.
In addition to creating a safe space for constructive criticism, managers must not take things personally when they hear negative feedback—even if they believe the person is wrong! The goal here is not to point fingers at individuals; instead, it’s about identifying the team’s systemic issues that need improvement. Only once these are laid out and addressed can the team perform better.
Managing a Software Development Team with Lab651
Software development is a process that requires constant communication and feedback from everyone involved. As a manager, this is a big responsibility—but it’s not impossible to fulfill. By incorporating these tips into your management practices, you can build a confident team that looks forward to walking into work each day and—more importantly—succeeds at fulfilling every goal you give them.